The Locker Room

Ezra Klein defends the CBO against a phantom attack

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:11 AM

Columnist and American history scholar Ezra Klein uses his latest Newsweek article to defend the Congressional Budget Office against unfair Republican attacks linked to the CBO assessment of ObamaCare's budgetary impact:
The bargain that both parties have previously struck with the CBO is that they’ll accept short-term setbacks from the agency because, in the long run, it’s better for the system to have someone keeping score. Right now, Republicans are breaking that bargain. They’re not merely saying the CBO’s guess is bad, or that the agency is right but the bill is bad for other reasons—they’re saying its whole system is, in the words of Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), “garbage in, garbage out.” Civil? Debatable. Wise? Definitely not.

Klein either ignores or fails to see that Republican criticism of the CBO has focused less on the quality of that group’s work than on the assumptions built into its calculations. Turning to Price’s analogy, “garbage in” linked to unrealistic or misleading assumptions creates flawed results — “garbage out” — even if the CBO’s work is impeccable.

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